We hope you’re not still using a space heater and blankets to keep yourself warm. Your home’s heating system is one of the most important contributors to your overall comfort throughout the year, and many different types of systems exist for residential use.
The five types of residential heating systems are as follows:
The furnace is the most popular method of heating. Furnaces are equipped with thermostats that the homeowner or a technician manually adjusts. These systems feature a thermostat and an electric auto-fuel switch that automatically controls combustion airflow throughout the furnace’s burners. These systems require periodic maintenance, such as blowing out the flue and cleaning the filter, to ensure proper operation.
2. Boilers & Hydronic Heating
Boilers, also known as hydronic systems, are very similar to furnaces. Boilers are essentially recirculating hot water systems that heat incoming water and pump it back into the water heater.
Boiler systems are typically used when a homeowner does not want to install a furnace system. These systems require periodic maintenance, such as cleaning the sediment trap and flushing out any solids that may have accumulated in the piping.
Hydronic systems are typically installed in basements as a supplemental heating source during an outage. These systems pass the water through a heat exchanger and distribute it through radiators throughout the basement space. Boilers often provide hot water for showers and bathtubs, whereas hydronic systems can provide hot water for washing clothes.
3. Heat Pumps
Heat pumps are the most efficient method of heating a home. Heat pumps use electricity to move heat from one place to another, and they can also cool down homes. Heat pumps can’t replace a furnace but can be used in conjunction with a furnace for supplemental heat during an outage. A heat pump works by removing heat through the refrigeration cycle, which is commonly called air conditioning. The heat removed from the air is then used to create a difference in temperature between the outside and the inside of the home. This temperature difference creates heat.
4. Electric Radiative Heating
Electric radiative heating systems use electric resistance to produce heat. These systems are generally not used to provide primary heating, but they can be used to provide supplemental heat in the event of an outage.
Electric radiative heating systems are typically a lower-cost and more efficient alternative to hydronic systems. They can handle large spaces and often do not require ductwork due to their open-air design.
These radiators usually have a small fan that pushes the heated air around the room, distributing the warmth evenly throughout the space.
5. Direct Vent Heating
Direct vent heating systems use a flue to heat and warm a home’s air. These systems are especially useful in homes with large windows because most homes do not have enough natural or forced air to heat the area.
Direct vent systems typically do not require external ductwork but utilize internal ducts to provide circulation through the home. The great advantage of these systems is that they can take advantage of the technology already installed in most homes: vents.
The most important consideration when choosing a heating system is its efficiency. These systems are rated by the amount of heat they can generate from a certain fuel. This measure is known as the heating capacity. The higher the capacity, the more efficient the system is considered.